Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2015

Despite "ban" under swine flu, South Gujarat tribal farmers protest non-payment of sugarcane dues

By Our Representative
South Gujarat's upcoming tribal farmers' organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), has gone ahead with protests in Vyara town of Tapi district over "non-payment" of dues to the sugarcane growers despite a "ban" imposed under the pretext of prevalence of swine flu. "There is no satisfactory answer from the authorities on how the payment, pending since 1996, would be made", says AKSM's Romel Sutariya, who is leading the protest for the 11 days at different spots in the town.

CAG report indicts Gujarat government's save the girl child campaign during Modi's stewardship

By Our Representative
In a scathing critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-hyped save the girl child campaign during the period of Gujarat's chief ministership, India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found that the Gujarat government had totally failed to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, meant to stop female foeticides.

Dalits face social boycott in North Gujarat village, attacked following dispute on irrigation water

By Our Representative
In a fresh incident of social boycott in North Gujarat, the dominant castemen of Ganjisar village of Santalpur taluka, Patan district, have passed an unusual resolution imposing heavy fines on those who maintain any type of social relations with the fellow Dalit villagers. The social boycott was imposed, suggests a representation handed over to different level of district and state officials, following a dispute on irrigation water between the Dalit and Choudhury Patel farmers.

Mother Teresa wasn't a respected saint: Pro-Modi economist Jagdish Bhagwati

By Our Representative
Considered by many as one of the world’s most talented economists, who “lost” the Nobel Prize to his imminent rival, Prof Amartya Sen -- and one who has recently gone extremely close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- Prof Jagdish Bhagwati has strongly defended RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for saying that Mother Teresa was more interested in conversion of Hindus to Christianity, and less in the welfare of the poor.

Gujarat villagers, environmentalists oppose coastal zone nod to Mithi Virdi nuclear plant

Counterview Desk
Two separate letters, one by senior Vadodara-based environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, and the other by local village heads, have strongly opposed the recent coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance to the proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. The letters say, the minutes of the 144th meeting of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India (January 28-30, 2015) are "totally vague” about the reasons for offering the nod.

Tribal women, children arrested, as Gujarat "presses ahead" with tourism project off Narmada

By Our Representative
According to latest information from near the Narmada dam in Gujarat, five women, one man and three minors were arrested by the police between 11.00 am and 6.30 pm on Saturday from Kevadia village, situated about 12 kilometres downstream of the controversial dam, currently under construction to its full reservoir level. After being transported to the Tilakwada Thana, 29 km away, they were held without proper food and other facilities.

Nitin Gadkari justifies land bill, says acquisitions have made both industrialists and farmers "happy"

By Our Representative
Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has asserted that, thanks to industrialization in India, land prices have zoomed and farmers are "willing to give up their land", living happily thereafter. One who has emerged as the most vocal advocate of the Land Acquisition Bill, currently pending Rajya Sabha nod to be turned into an Act, the top minister says, "Those who are giving up their land are happy and the ones acquiring them are also happy."

Senior activist alleges, nearly 60% of South Gujarat tribals fail to get land under Forest Rights Act

By Our Representative
In an important revelation, nearly 60 per cent of the tribals of the Chhotaudepur region in South Gujarat have still not been given land titles they are entitled to under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. A representation by Manjula Pradeep of Ahmedabad-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, which organized a powerful rally in Chhotaudepur town to press for tribal rights, has said, out 13,381 applications for land under FRA, only 5,498 applications have so far been approved, while the rest "remain to to be cleared."

Modi Cabinet "handed over" Rs 144 crore prime Ahmedabad land for Rs 4 lakh

By Our Representative
If documents released to the media are any indication, the Gujarat government has handed over a precious plot of land, estimated to be costing Rs 144.50 crore, to a private company, S E Transstadia of Mumbai at a throw away price of Rs 4.02 lakh in order to build for "setting up a massive multipurpose sports stadium and recreation complex in Ahmedabad" on a prime land.

Gujarat agricultural growth story? Socially disadvantaged groups fail to gain: NSSO data

By Rajiv Shah
Latest figures released by the Government of India’s powerful data collection centre, National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), have suggested that the purchasing power of three socially disadvantaged groups in rural Gujarat – scheduled tribes (STs), scheduled castes (SCs) and other backward classes (OBCs) – is considerably lower than not just most of the Indian states. It is also much lower than the dominant social groups, identified as “Others” by the NSSO, compared to most other states.

Hashimpura masscre acquittal result of "deliberate, shoddy" investigation

By Our Representative
The largest incident of custodial killing which took place in Hashimpura (UP) in 1987, in which officers of the notorious Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) shot dead 42 persons from the Muslim community and sought to destroy the evidence, has resulted in the acquittal of all the 16 accused because of "the deliberately lackadaisical and shoddy investigation", alleges Vibhuti Narain Rai, retired officer of the Indian Police Force (IPS) in a video interview.

National Minorities Commission makes mysterious visit to Mumbai, Christian body "shocked"

By Our Representative
Minority organizations of Mumbai have taken strong exception to the National Minorities Commission (NMC) members “resting” at the Maharashtra government’s Sahyardi Guest House at the Malabar Hill, but refusing to inform minority leaders of the state for any representation.
Taking note of this, Save Our Land’s (SOUL’s) Dolphy D'souza, who is former president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, has said it is “shocking” that the members of the NMC are in Mumbai for two days, yet “hardly anyone knows about their visit.”

National award to Goonga Pahelwan, a film on most accomplished deaf athlete made by Gujarat NGO

By Our Representative
In a major victory for Gujarat's activist film makers, "Goonga Pehelwan", a documentary on the life and struggle of Virender Singh, one of India's most accomplished deaf athletes, has been adjudged as the best debut film award in the non-feature category for the 62nd National Film Awards for the Year 2014. Directed by Mit Jani, Vivek Chaudhary, and Prateek Gupta, the documentary, released in 2013, is an attempt to bring to light the "unequal treatment" from the government and the society.

Beef eating: India was "never defeated" when Hindus ate beef, says Mumbai-based scholar

By Our Representative
In a controversial statement, which may not go down well with those who are considered dominant sections of Hindus, a Mumbai-based scholar Amberish K Diwanji has triggered hornet's nest by saying, historically, “when Hindus ate beef, India was never conquered.” The scholar points towards “remarkable link between the eating of beef and India being a superpower”. The view comes amidst raging controversy surrounding the Maharashtra government’s recent ban on beef eating in the state.

Singapore's 'unapologetic autocrat' was far-sighted statesman to Modi

By Our Representative
In a scathing commentary, Ben Judah, author of best-seller "Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In And Out Of Love With Vladimir Putin", has qualified Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew -- who died at the age of 91 on March 23 -- as someone whose legacy brought about "an unmitigated disaster" to several countries in the world, especially Eastern Europe.

Tribal farmers' body in Gujarat put under surveillance, told it can't meet because of swine flu

By Our Representative
Fresh apprehensions of a campdown on South Gujarat's fast-growing tribal farmers' organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), arose on Tuesday, with the Gujarat government putting on surveillance its leaders, who were in Ahmedabad to represent before Gujarat government officials over refusal to pay dues to tribal farmers by the powerful sugar mill lobby of the region.

Modi govt seeking to "whittle down" Prime Minister's 15-point programme for minorities

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by a group of activists led by well-known Christian human rights campaigner John Dayal has said that attempts are being made to severely “whittle down” the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme for Minorities, which are considered “a lifeline for severely economic backward communities, and especially their youth seeking higher education and professional training.”
The 15-Point Programme was floated by the former UPA government after a committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar came up with a report in 2005 about the condition of minorities in India and suggesting steps to alleviate their plight.

Senior activists form new anti-land acquisition bill forum, chalk out plans for agitation

By Our Representative
Anti-Modi land rights activists have announced the formation of Joint Forum against the Land Acquisition Bill-2015. The occasion of the announcement was March 23, 2015, the anniversary day on when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru laid down their lives for the freedom of India.

Dholera 'rooted' in post-2002 Gujarat riots legacy of breaking down communities, neighbourhoods, trust

Counterview Desk
In one of the sharpest critiques of the Government of India’s (GoI’s) proposal to come up with 100 smart cities, a senior UK scholar on urban development has said that Gujarat's Dholera, which GoI proposes to develop as a model concept for other smart cities to follow, is nothing but a “new urban utopia” of post-colonial India.

Industries in Ahmedabad cause highest proportion of pollution compared to other major cities

Counterview Desk
A recently report by the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has found that industrial pollution remains the main cause of worry for Ahmedabad. The study has said that out of 9,124.45 Gg CO2 emitted in Ahmedabad, industry alone accounts for 22.41 per cent, which is highest of the six other comparable cities -- Delhi, Greater Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Greater Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.

Big dams encourage inefficient use of water in India, claims top Modi aide Babubhai Navlawala

By Our Representative
Taking a stance similar to one of Centre's staunchest opponents, Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Narendra Modi government's water resources adviser BN Navalawala has taken strong exception to excessive dependence on big dams for solving India's water problems. Instead, he has called for adopting a mix of "efficient methods" in the use of water and laws to ensure that this becomes a reality.

Top Dalit rights NGO shuns foreign funds, invites donations to help NO PLASTIC, NO CASTE motto

By Our Representative
In an important move, the Navsarjan Trust, top Gujarat-based NGO, has decided not to go in for any foreign funding for one its major projects -- the three schools run by it in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Patan districts. Announcing this, Martin Macwan, founder of Navsarjan Trust who currently directly looks after the schools, has said he plans to collect funds from "concerned citizens" who believe in the concept behind the three "model" schools -- to usher in the spirit of equality among children.

Christian human rights body leads protest against "sharp rise" in attack on minorities, women

By Our Representative
A dharna organised by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR), and supported the well-known civil rights group Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, and top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad-led Citizens for Justice and Peace, has taken strong exception to "derogatory remarks" against members of the minority community by those close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Gujarat government cites swine flu, cancels tribal farmers' rally in Vyara

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has cancelled a tribal farmers’ rally, proposed to be led by the Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM) for March 20 at Vyara, district headquarters of Tapi district. Imposing section 144, which disallows gathering of more than four persons in a public place except in exceptional circumstances, the reason cited by the state government for cancelling the rally is: The “danger” of swine flu being spread among the proposed rallyists.

Amit Shah likens BJP to Lord Shiva, says no compromise on Kashmir

By Our Representative
BJP president and right-hand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Amit Shah has raked up yet another controversy by likening his party, BJP, with Lord Shiva. Speaking on political situation in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Shah told party workers in Ahmedabad that people had blessed BJP "like Lord Shiva and given us very big responsibility", hence it would not "compromise on the national interest."

Top British financial daily: Businesses are beginning to grumble in India

By Our Representative
The powerful British business daily, “Financial Times” (FT) has noted that though Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in office for nearly a year, “businesses are beginning to grumble” about his “limited progress, especially in bugbear areas such as tax.”
The top daily, in an article titled “Cairn’s woes turn spotlight on India business environment” (March 17), has said that this is one major reason why last week UK-based Cairn Energy “reacted angrily to an unexpected new $1.6bn tax demand from New Delhi.”

India's mining children 'neglected' by govt, human rights activists alike

By Our Representative
Two important voluntary organizations, working in several of the mining areas of India, have expressed serious concern that the so-called “mining children” in the country are actually “nobody’s children”. In a sharp critique, these organizations have said, while the Government of India has not allocated the task of looking after mining children to any specific ministry or department, the NGOs working in the mining areas too have neglected their rights.

Ahmedabad Airport customs delayed Solar Impulse takeoff by two hours, pilots "upset"

By Our Representative
"Customs clearance" at the Ahmedabad airport delayed the take off of the Solar Impulse plane by nearly two hours on March 17-18 night. Soon after the delay, tweets began to pound taking strong exception to the way Indian customs behave. They quoted the pilot Andre Borschberg that "bureaucratic delays" held up the flight plan of the solar plane from Ahmedabad to Varanasi. The Solar Impulse website has confirmed the delay due to "customs issues".

Political parties need not act as public authorities, RTI watchdog rules; activists angry

By Our Representative
The Central Information Commission (CIC), the national watchdog of right to information (RTI), has said it cannot do anything about the six national level political parties, which have refused to comply with its two-year old order declaring them public authorities under the RTI Act. Reacting strongly, senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak has termed the decision "tame", adding it is a "body blow" to the regime of transparency established by the Act.

IMF recipe for fiscal consolidation in India: Higher personal income tax, lower corporate tax

By Our Representative
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world’s powerful banker, has strongly favoured a sharp rise in personal income tax in India, even as simultaneously bringing down corporate taxes. In a policy paper released this month, the IMF believes this is one of the major steps Government of India requires to take in order to bring about fiscal consolidation.

IMF study backs Modi, seeks labour market flexibility citing poor female participation rate

Counterview Desk
The world's powerful bankers, International Monetary Fund (IMF), have now backed the Government of India's "effort" to bring about a major change in the country's labour laws by removing the labour protection provisions, saying it would help reduce "gender gap in Indian labour force participation". In a recent policy paper, it says, increased "labour market flexibility" would lead to "more formal sector jobs, allowing more women, many of whom are working in the informal sector, to be employed in the formal sector."

Alleging Rs 90 crore "corruption", South Gujarat tribal farmer body threatens stir on March 20

By Our Representative
The Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Manch (AKSM), an upcoming tribal farmers' organization, has decided to launch a new agitation -- this time against the powerful sugar lobby of South Gujarat. In a statement, AKSM has said, it will be holding a rally in Vyara town, which is the district capital of Tapi, on March 20 highlighting the "failure" of the local sugar cooperatives association to pay up Rs 90 crore to the tribal farmers against the purchase of sugarcane since 2006.

Gujarat, other "richer" states poor performers in implementing rural jobs guarantee scheme

By Rajiv Shah
Latest data released by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) suggest that Gujarat, along with a "richer" states Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab, have been some of the worst performers in the implementation the previous UPA government's flagship job scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Gujarat labour court orders cent per cent payment of compensation to deadly silicosis victims

By Our Representative
In a judgment of considerable significance for those suffering from the deadly occupational disease, silicosis, in Gujarat, the labour court in Vadodara has asked the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) -- a Government of India undertaking “tailored” to provide health-related protection to workers -- to pay up compensation to nine surviving victims who were diagnosed of the disease in 2007.
A year after they were diagnosed of the disease while working in agate units in Godhra district of Gujarat, Vadodara-based People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC) helped victims of silicosis file a petition against ESIC for compensation (“disablement benefit” in legal terms).

Top Gandhian and Modi critic Narayan Desai passes away in Vedchhi, South Gujarat

By Our Representative
Well-known Gandhian Narayan Desai and a firm Modi critic, who became famous for his Gandhi Katha, a story-telling mode for religious preaching, has passed away. Born on December 24, 1924 in Valsad in South Gujarat, Desai breathed last in the wee hours of March 15 in a town situated not very far, Vedcchi, where Mahatma Gandhi founded one of his many ashrams. He was son of Gandhi's personal secretary and biographer Mahadev Desai.

Reduce mining area, set aside 26 per cent profit for affected people in the new bill, demands MM&P

By Our Representative
Mines, Minerals & People (MM&P), a national alliance of over 200 mining affected communities and support groups, has taken strong exception to a new provision in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, which seeks to increase the area limits for license and mining lease, without specifying any ceiling. The current ceiling is 10 km.

Arvind Kejriwal's propensity to negate greys and see everything in stark black or white

By Vistasp Hodiwala*
People who we thought should have known better have failed us. There is no other way to put this. Nothing has been so bloody disillusioning in a long, long time. My insides are churning as I write this with a sense of disquiet and disillusionment. From the time this mid-spring madness has been unleashed upon us, there is just one question which has bothered me the most: Arvind Kejriwal's absolute refusal to say a word on this episode.
Even accounting for the fact that he is hurt, his steadfast refusal to be drawn into this doesn't make sense any longer. Especially in the light of recent developments. Is that hurt going to extend all the way to seeing them off? Is that hurt bigger than the dreams and values of the party's founding principles? Can he not be the large-hearted man we have felt he always was, by coming out and finally putting a stop to these inanities? Or is the writing already on the wall and he is merely trying to keep his hands in the clea…

Congress, Left, human rights organizations come together to hold anti-Modi protest on March 19

By Our Representative
In an important move of considerable political significance, Congress and Left parties with be coming together for the first time in many years, joining hands with several human rights organizations and individuals for a rally at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on March 19. The banner of the rally will be "Exposing 300 days of Modi's Rule", says a note by the organizers, adding, Prime Minister Marendra Modi came to power "riding a promise of development", but "his election campaign was fueled by subtle hate against religious minorities".

Tribal rights: Gujarat a poor performer, suggests Central govt document

By Rajiv Shah
A new Government of India document, in possession of Counterview, has suggested that Gujarat’s performance in providing land to the tribals under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, is one of the poorest in India. The document shows, as of December-end 2014, Gujarat, an early starter, was able to “dispose of” just 39.97 per cent, or 75,974 claims, out of the total 1,90,051 tribals who had applied for land title deeds or community rights. This is against the national average of a whopping 82.60 per cent (17,13,519 out of 39,59,0190).

"Relief" to Adanis' top Aussie coal mining project: Dredge spoil to be dumped on land, not wetland

By Our Representative In major relief, the Adani Group, seeking to go in for one of the world’s biggest mining projects in Australia’s Queensland province, has reached an agreement with its new Labour government which has just taken over, allowing it to dump the dredge spoil on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal, and not on ecologically sensitive Caley Valley wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Gujarat annual plan: Rs 10,000 crore likely to remain unspent in 2014-15

By Our Representative
A whopping Rs 10,000 crore is likely to remain unspent out of the total allocation for Rs 71,500 crore, set aside for annual plan by the Gujarat government for the year 2014-15. Annual plan consists of developmental expenditure for the social and economic upliftment of the population in such sectors like health and education. It differs from non-plan expenditure, which the government must spend for paying debts, interest on loans, salaries to government employees, and other such expenditure, which does not directly benefit people.

South Gujarat tribal activist released, awaits hero's welcome in Tapi, Chhotaudepur

By Our Representative
The Gujarat High Court’s Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Board on Monday ordered the release of Jayram Gamit, a young tribal activist of South Gujarat’s Tapi and Chhotaudepur districts. Gamit was arrested under PASA Act on January 31, allegedly in order to preempt a tribal rally, which was planned in Chhotaudepur on February 2. The district was simultaneously declared “terrorist prone”. Section 144 orders were imposed and the rally was banned.

Gujarat's Hansot communal clashes on January 14 were "provoked" by right-wing forces: PUCL

By Our Representative
A People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) fact-finding team has found that the communal clashes in and around Hansot taluka of Bharuch District in Gujarat, which led to the death of three innocent persons on January 14, 2015, the day of Uttarayan Festival, was “not a sporadic incident” but “a gradual build-up that started on December 9, 2014, which the local administration failed to anticipate.”

A great majority of Indian farmers want to "shift to cities", says survey report

Counterview Desk
A recent survey report, prepared by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, for the a high-profile NGO, Lokniti, has found that, given an employment opportunity, 61 per cent of India’s farmers would like to shift to cities, and 50 per cent of farmers said they are “ready to quit farming” if such a possibility arises.

90% Indian farmers have "no special liking" for agriculture: Modi aide

By Our Representative
Why should the controversial Land Acquisition Ordinance, seeking to replace the 2013 Act, be turned into a full-fledged Act? Explanation put forward by Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog -- set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi replacing Planning Commission -- is: Because large majority of farmers, 90 per cent to be exact, allegedly do not having any special liking for farming as their occupation which could earn them income.

Another controversy around Kejriwal: Top activist asks, why shouldn't women make a fuss?

By Our Representative
In a fresh controversy surrounding Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, women activists have taken strong exception to his latest statement on the International Women’s Day (IWD), where he asked men to follow his wife and mother who had supported him during the Aam Admi Party (AAP) campaign in Delhi by continuing their household work. “During my fight against corruption, my wife ran the house while my mother supported me,” he had said.

Gender budgeting? Central allocation for 2015-16 lowest in five years

By Our Representative
A fresh analysis of the Gender Budget Statement (GBS) for 2015-16 has revealed that the total allocation under it as proportion of the Union budget has been progressively going down, with 2015-16 being the lowest of the last five years.

AAP churning: Lack of internal democracy, leadership style, lack of ideology were symptoms of larger issues

By Joe Athialy*
Is the internal churning within the Aaam Aadmi Party (AAP) inadvertently opening up an opportunity for a more egalitarian nationwide political process? The nearly two year process of AAP played a very important role in the recent history of Indian politics. It challenged and succeeded to a great extend both Congress and BJP in their own turf; from a dirty word, politics has become common people's concern and they were made to feel a part of it; it challenged the cynical perception that nothing can change in this country.

GIFT chief's take on why Gujarat would be centre of world finances: "Cheap" real estate prices

By Our Representative
Even before it has developed into a normal finance city, Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT) chief Ramakant Jha has already turned into an international finance city. In an interview with a United Arab Emirates news site, The Nation, Jha -- who considers himself as the brain behind the Navi Mumbai real estate project -- has there is legal sanction for GIFT for being an "international finance city", which isn't available to any other place, including Mumbai.

Tribals off Narmada celebrate Holi, receive ration cards for the first time since Independence

By Our Representative As the rest of the country splashed in a riot of colours, more than 500 adivasis from the interior tribal villages of Narmada Valley gathered at Toranmal, tehsil Shahda, district Nandurbar in Maharashtra on Friday. While Toranmal is a well-known tourist spot, this year Holi was special here, as more than a thousand poor tribal families from villages Jhapi, Falai, Khadki, Kundiya and hamlets of Toranmal received ‘ration cards’ on Friday for the first time after independence.